WEST ORANGE, NJ - All 27 Essex County Police agencies will begin administration of Narcan (a trade name for Naloxone) in an effort to treat individuals suspected of overdosing on heroin or other opiates.

“Today, 250 Narcan kits will be given to local law enforcement agencies," said Carolyn Murray, Acting Essex County Prosecutor.

"The goal of this program is to equip every police department in Essex County, including campus police and others, to be able to immediately render life-saving assistance to someone who is overdosing on heroin or other opiates,’’ she continued.

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Narcan is a federally-approved drug that has no euphoric properties and possesses minimal side effects. It works by blocking the opiate receptors in the brain and provide a window of opportunity to save lives by providing extra time for medical attention and emergency help to arrive. The sooner Narcan is administered, the better the outcome can be.

Narcan is usually given by intramuscular (IM) injection (into the muscle of the arm, thigh or buttocks) or with a nasal spray device (into the nose).  It will take effect within five minutes and may need to be repeated, depending on an individual's response. It lasts about 30 minutes and  if administrated to a person who is not experiencing an overdose, it cannot harm the patient.  Essex County agencies will employ the nasal device. 

“Because police officers often arrive on the scene prior to emergency medical personnel, they will now be able to intervene and provide relief until back up help arrives,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.

Gov. Chris Christie signed the Overdose Prevention Act into law in May, 2013. The law paved the way to allow a physician to prescribe an opiate antidote Naloxone (Narcan) to anyone who may be in a position to assist another individual during an opiate overdose. The State Attorney General’s Office set up a pilot training program to train police officers in the administration of Narcan earlier in 2014.

According to a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, "In October 2014, all law enforcement agencies in Essex County attended a Train the Trainer session to learn to administer the opiate antidote.  The training was provided by Essex County Hospital Center, Dr. Naipaul Rambaran, MD, ABAM, Medical Director, a certified addiction and rehabilitation specialist."

After the initial distribution of 250 kits by the ECPO, agencies will be responsible for replenishing these kits once they are depleted. Pickup was expected to begin on Dec. 29 at Essex County Hospital Center in Cedar Grove, according to Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives Anthony Ambrose.